(A Day Of) Life In A Northern Town

The story of my day begins in a green room backstage at Northwestern College’s Maranatha Hall.  I told Ben – that’s him in the picture – how impressed I was with the technical folks at Northwestern.  The sound system sounded great during our check and the guys were prepared for us and easy to work with.


A few minutes later I was out on stage in front of 1400 students.  I flubbed a joke about how cold Minnesota is so badly that I’m pretty sure the crowd thought I was making fun of them.  So I moved on with the serious work of explaining why we should care about the poor.  Then, near the end of my presentation, at what might be the most crucial moment of the whole morning, my microphone dies.  I walk to the piano and take another microphone from it’s stand, not realizing that its cord is secured to the stand with clamps.  As I yank, the clamps go flying in the first row.  There’s laughter.  I’ve lost them, I thought. Then the second microphone goes dead.  More laughter.  I’ve definitely lost them.

Then a sound guy flips a switch or wiggles a cable or something and I’m back on.  But as I’m wrapping up, showing a picture of a sponsored child and the impact $32 can make on a kid’s life, a sound tech walks out on stage and starts replacing a bad cable.  He was just doing his job and I’m grateful he was there but the timing was terrible.  Not a single eye was on me anymore.  Definitely lost them.

A few minutes later 143 kids were sponsored by a bunch of Ramen-noodle-eating “poor” college students.  God didn’t lose them.


Then I played live at a radio station: KTIS.  And I realized another perk of being independent.


The interviewer dutifully asked me questions about my latest CD – now three years old.  Until a commercial break during which I told her I didn’t have to talk about the CD.  I explained that I’m not on a label anymore so we can talk about whatever we want and no one in marketing is going to get upset.  “Goood,” she said and became noticeably more relaxed.  And she turned the rest of the conversation to Compassion International.  She and KTIS do a lot to get kids sponsored and we were just two people without anything to sell, trading stories about the miracles we’ve seen and heard about in the third world.  So nice to be out of the CD business and in the business of change.


Then lunch and a nap.


Turns out Bebo Norman and Jeremy Camp were in town tonight as well.  Playing a concert together at exactly the same time that I was.  Tonight.  The same town.

So I figured about 8 students would show up to hear me.  And I was wrong.  We had a great crowd – considering.  150ish folks, who sponsored another 20 kids.  But that’s not the only fun I had tonight.

During the concert, while I was at the piano, I saw a guy get up and leave out the back door.  I assumed he’d be coming back.  When the door shut behind him I asked everyone who had been sitting around him to get up and move somewhere else.  They did.  And I asked if someone else would come sit where they’d been.  They also did.

A few minutes later, bathroom boy comes back in and makes his way to his seat near the front.  And stops.  Mouth open.  Wide eyes. Lost as can be.

So I stop playing.  “Hey, man, do you mind taking a seat?  I’m trying to sing some songs to Jesus here and you’re kinda distracting. Can you take a seat?” And he does.


Eventually his friends came and sat by him and we all had a good laugh.  Luckily he and his friends have a great sense of humor and so did everyone else – I guessed as much. Thank God.



So, what do you do to celebrate a day as great as this one?  You go door-to-door in a dorm asking people if they have spray paint. And when you finally get some you paint a rock.


Northwestern has a rock near the entrance of campus tat students are allowed to paint.  “Steve loves Jessica” – stuff like that.  So we painted a little celebratory message for the students to wake up to tomorrow morning.  All day long people will be asking each other what it means.  And as the word spreads, as students drive past the rock all weekend, maybe someone will become number 164.



Finally, thank you – HUGE THANK YOU – to Kelly at Lovewell for hooking us up with the folks at Northwestern.  Got a school that needs to hear about Compassion or have something painted?  Book me for free: [email protected]